Review – Paul Koenig’s Market Garden: Nijmegen Bridge from Victory Point Games

PKMG_Nijmegen_cover-front(FULL)

Review – Paul Koenig’s Market Garden: Nijmegen Bridge from Victory Point Games

Designer – Paul Koenig

Art – Tim Allen

Victory Point Games has supplied a copy of this game for review purposes

Yay! The 3rd installment in this series of games covering Operation Market Garden, Paul Koenig’s Market Garden: Nijmegen Bridge arrived. I have thoroughly enjoyed the first to games as you can see by my previous reviews of Paul Koenig’s Operation Market Garden: Arnhem Bridge and Paul Koenig’s Operation Market Garden: Eindhoven Bridge and this completes the trio of individual games. I am also really pleased to hear that a campaign game, tying all 3 together is coming as well.

Using an identical system to the previous games, this is another game I have time to play as I just don’t have the energy or the time to devote to heavy war games, as cool and interesting as they are. And the Market-Garden Campaign has always had an interest for me. True to form, Victory Point Games lives up to their credo, “The gameplay’s the thing”.

Unboxing

There is a bagged or a boxed version of this game. I have the bagged version which includes –

●    1 11 x 17” map with tables
●    72 thick, two-sided, multi-shaped, laser-cut game pieces
●    One 16-page Rules booklet (Standard, Optional, and Exclusive rules included)

You also get a teeny, tiny die but I recommend you use one of your own.

This game is made to the same new high standard as other new releases from VPG. The map, on card stock, is an excellent rendition of the operational area of Nijmegen, Holland and you surely can’t help to notice he size of the city of Nijmegen and suburbs. This is clearly tough and challenging urban terrain which you will be fighting hand-to-hand over. The requisite tables/charts are right there for you, easy to read, and in an effective layout.

PKMG_Nijmegen_map

The counters are of the new thick variety and much nicer to play the game with. You will have to give them a wipe with a tissue as there is a black residue from the laser cutting but then its all good. The printing is all clear to read and the quality is a nice step up to VPG‘s previous production efforts. I really like that the Activation chits are large and chunky and the Leadership Token is massive which is actually a great idea so that the players can have it very visible to remember to use it.

On the other hand, the support, artillery and interdiction chits have been shrunk which I don’t thinks is great as they are just too small. I would have preferred them to be the standard size. I can see though, that in order to keep the counters to a set amount and within a specific template for laser cutting (thereby keeping the cost down, I assume) certain printing decisions had to be made, and there are trade offs.

 

PKMG_Nijmegen_counters(front)

Game play overview

As in the previous games in the series, the game play is a chit-pull system and is pretty easy to understand.

Paratroop Landing Phase – Paratroops enter the map edges as the landing zones are actually “off-map”. Some landings have to face German anti-aircraft fire and may end up landing in a weakened condition, having taken hits, or may not end up landing at all if damaged badly.
Support Phase – Day turns only, Artillery and Allied support markers are randomly allocated to the players to be used in battle
Operations Phase – Fighting formations are activated randomly through a chit-pull system so that you never know in what order units will be activated. Units may –
– Move at full movement allowance and conduct close combat (movement is subject to terrain effects and movement allowance limits)
– Make a Full Fire Attack if it hasn’t moved (Fire combat is subject to terrain effects and previous Hits upon the Attacker  as well as added Artillery or Air Support) Close combat requires 1 unit to enter an enemy occupied hex only if their is one enemy unit in the hex. This can be particularly tough for the allies to do if the Germans are stacking in the city hexes which will mean that your efforts are spent blasting away, trying to remove units, before closing to knock them out of victory point hexes.
– Combine 1/2 movement including entering Close Combat, and conduct Mobile Fire Attack at 1/2 strength
Combat is resolved through comparing Attacker and Defender strengths for a differential on the combat table to get a combat result.
Exclusive rules cover Reinforcements and Paratroop landings, Fire combat effects of bridges.
Further optional rules cover Leadership which allows the player holding the Leadership advantage to do certain things to help their cause as well as Interdiction, Indirect Fire and Overruns.
The rules are very straightforward for experienced war gamers and certainly on the easier end or Beer & Pretzels end of complexity which means you can get set up and playing quickly. Less experienced players will take a bit of time but should be able to come to grips in good order. This is not a deep gritty simulation and a good example of a gateway war game for new players.
Do I like Paul Koenig’s Market Garden: Nijmegen Bridge?
I am an unashamed fan of this series so this is a no brainer for me. I wonder if this will become the linchpin of the series as I think that the issue of trying to get across the river to take both sides of the main Nijmegen bridge is such an enticing challenge. This is one heck of a punch up. It all seems daunting at first for the allies as you have to go for the victory point hexes in a straightforward manner in very tough urban terrain to stand a chance of winning. You really get a sense of how very difficult was and I find myself still wondering what the heck Montgomery was thinking when he dreamed up Market-Garden.
Paul Koenig’s design of the Market-Garden series is one of the best that I’ve come across for the constraints that I am faced with in trying to get games to the table. He has taken classic hex & counter elements and re-invented them just enough into a clean, exciting system. Combat has options, each with pluses and minuses. You are under pressure as the allies to make things happen as time goes quickly. As the Germans, you will be judicious and defensive, but you will be looking to soak up hits to your units to delay the allies, and also look for a local counter-punch to keep them off-balance.
The emphasis is on play, rather than simulation. Don’t get me wrong. You definitely get a feel for the operations and the key aspects and problems that the commanders had to deal with and that’s plenty, believe me. But you don’t have to invest long hours, in fact you can nail this game rather quickly and have another go (you will want to). You don’t need a lot of table space as you have a small map and not too many counters. You don’t have to worry about crunching numbers, and multitudes of unit types and capabilities. This is a high level operational game that keeps things very simple and playable, and best of all, is darn good fun.
If you are a fan of the old SPI folio series games, you will love these games. If you are new to war gaming, you will love these games as a good entry point to a great hobby. If you are like me and are looking for fast, playable war games, this is definitely the ticket.
Paul Koenig’s Market Garden: Nijmegen Bridge is tops for me, along with the other games in the series.
And you know what Paul Koenig is working on next for Victory Point Games? A 2- game Battle of the Bulge set!!!!
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